Kauai, sparked by Kaliko Banquel’s three-run homer, rallied past Hilo 10-8 in a slugfest at the state Little League majors baseball tournament Sunday in Kailua, Oahu.
With the win in the losers bracket game, Kauai (1-1) stayed alive in the five-team, double-elimination event for players ages 11-12 at the Keolu Elementary School Field. With the loss, Hilo (1-2) was eliminated.
“We were slugging all the way through,” said Hilo manager Clayton Ah Hee. “Kauai jumped to a 5-0 lead, but our kids never hung their heads. They kept on fighting, even through the final inning when we had the bases loaded and two outs.”
Kauai scored two runs in the top of the first inning and three in the second to grab a 5-0 lead. But the Big Islanders rallied, scoring a run in the second and two in the third to close to within 5-3. Then after the Garden Isle team plated two runs in the fourth, Hilo exploded for four runs in the bottom of the frame to tie the contest at 7-7.
Hilo added a run in the fifth inning to take an 8-7 advantage in the roller coaster-like game.
But Kauai accepted the challenge and came back with three runs in the sixth inning to regain the lead at 10-8.
In the bottom of the sixth with two outs, Hilo loaded the bases and was looking to tie it up or win it in walk-off fashion. But the Kauai pitcher snuck a fastball past a Big Islander batter for a third strike to finally end the thriller.
Besides Banquel’s big three-run homer, teammate Chase Ibia had a productive day for Kauai. He went 3-for-4 with a solo homer.
Aiden Ah Hee and Nathan Minami each had three hits to lead Hilo. Ah Hee also had a two-run homer.
Eric Riveira went 2-for-3 with a solo homer, Bryce Furuli went 2-for-3 with an RBI, and Cullen Cariaga hit a solo homer.
Chayse Basuel started for Kauai and pitched most of the way to get the win. Hilo started Aiden Ah Hee, who went 1 1⁄3 innings. Macyn Kanaeholo then took over and finished. He was tagged with the loss while striking out four and walking one.
Kauai 230 203 — 10 12 1
Hilo 012 410 — 8 14 3